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The Hidden Threat to Fertility: Untreated STDs
Assisted Reproduction Center

The Hidden Threat to Fertility: Untreated STDs

Fertility is a precious aspect of life, and for many, the dream of starting a family is a fundamental part of their journey. However, there's a hidden threat that can significantly impact your fertility – untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Two common culprits in this scenario are chlamydia and gonorrhea. In this article, we will explore how these untreated infections can damage your fertility and discuss your options if you are already experiencing infertility due to these infections.

The Silent Intruders: Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections that often go unnoticed because they may not present any noticeable symptoms. However, even in their asymptomatic form, they can wreak havoc on your reproductive health.

Damage to the Reproductive Organs:

Chlamydia and Damage to Reproductive Organs:

Untreated chlamydia is notorious for its insidious progression within the body. Here's how it can damage the reproductive organs:

Ascension of the Infection: Chlamydia often starts as a localized infection in the cervix or urethra. However, it can ascend through the female reproductive tract when left untreated. In men, it can lead to epididymitis, a painful inflammation of the epididymis, which is a tube that stores and transports sperm.

Inflammation and Scarring: As chlamydia ascends in women, it can infect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The infection triggers an inflammatory response in these organs, causing redness, swelling, and damage to the delicate tissues. Over time, this inflammation can lead to the formation of scar tissue, a process known as fibrosis.

Blocked Fallopian Tubes: The most concerning consequence of untreated chlamydia in women is the potential for blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. Scar tissue can narrow or completely block these tubes, which are essential for transporting eggs from the ovaries to the uterus and providing a passage for sperm to meet the egg. When the fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg and sperm cannot unite, resulting in infertility.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Scarred fallopian tubes can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. This is a life-threatening condition and a medical emergency.

Gonorrhea and Damage to Reproductive Organs:

Gonorrhea, like chlamydia, can cause significant harm to the reproductive organs when left untreated:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Untreated gonorrhea can lead to PID in women. PID is a severe infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. As with chlamydia, the infection triggers inflammation and can result in scarring and adhesions within the pelvis.

Fallopian Tube Damage: Gonorrhea-related PID can cause substantial damage to the fallopian tubes. Scar tissue may narrow or block the tubes, preventing the passage of both eggs and sperm.

Chronic Pelvic Pain: Chronic pelvic pain is a common consequence of untreated gonorrhea. The inflammation and scarring can lead to ongoing discomfort and discomfort during intercourse.

Increased Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy and Infertility: Just like with chlamydia, blocked fallopian tubes resulting from gonorrhea-related PID can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

Extent of Damage:

The extent of damage caused by untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience minimal scarring and fertility issues, while others may suffer more severe damage, leading to complete blockage of the fallopian tubes and a higher risk of complications.

It's crucial to emphasize that early detection and prompt treatment of these infections are essential to prevent or minimize damage to the reproductive organs. Regular STD testing and open communication with healthcare providers can help individuals address these infections and protect their fertility. In cases where infertility has already occurred due to untreated STDs, various fertility treatments and interventions, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and tubal surgery, can offer hope for those desiring to start a family.

Options for Infertility Due to Untreated STDs:

If you suspect or know that your fertility has been compromised due to untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea, there are still options available to help you achieve your dream of parenthood.

Seek Treatment: The first and most crucial step is to seek treatment for the underlying infection. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable with antibiotics. Prompt treatment can prevent further damage and complications.

Consult a Fertility Specialist: If you have been unsuccessful in conceiving after treating the infection, it's advisable to consult a fertility specialist. They can conduct a thorough evaluation of your reproductive health and discuss potential options.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): IVF is a highly effective option for couples facing infertility due to scarring of the fallopian tubes or other reproductive issues caused by untreated STDs. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes and allows for the fertilization of eggs and sperm outside the body, followed by the transfer of embryos into the uterus.

Tubal Surgery: In some cases, if the damage to the fallopian tubes is not severe, surgery may be an option to repair or clear blockages. This can be especially beneficial for women with a history of chlamydia-related tubal damage.

Male Infertility Treatments: Men affected by untreated STDs, such as gonorrhea, can explore treatments for male infertility. These may include techniques to improve sperm quality or procedures like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) during IVF.

Prevention for the Future: After successful treatment and if you're planning to conceive in the future, consider regular STD testing and practicing safe sex to avoid reinfection and further fertility complications.


Untreated STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can have long-lasting consequences on your fertility. It's essential to prioritize safe sexual practices, get tested regularly, and seek prompt treatment if you suspect or are diagnosed with an STD. If you're already experiencing infertility due to these infections, remember that there are options available, including IVF, tubal surgery, and treatments to address male infertility. Consulting a fertility specialist can help you navigate these options and work toward achieving your dream of parenthood.

Dr. Iñaki González-Foruria
Medical Director
COMB: 40780
Dr. Clàudia Forteza
Gynecologist in Human Assisted Reproduction
COMB: 50849
Dr. Rebeca Beguería
Gynecologist in Human Assisted Reproduction
COMB: 40754
Joan Massó
IVF Lab Director
CBC: 21270C
Dr. Manel Fabó
Anaesthetist Doctor
COMB 23569
Monica Mandas
COIB: 057909
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